Scouting the Bears
4:17 PM CDT, September 22, 2012
Through two weeks of the season, the Rams defense has leaned on coverage schemes in third-and-7-plus situations to take away vertical concepts. Sunday at Soldier Field, the Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler can attack the Rams secondary running deep, inside breaking routes.
As shown here, the Bears have their Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in a Doubles Exchange alignment. The Rams counter with their "Ruby" front (three defensive linemen, two linebackers, six defensive backs) playing "Tent Anchor" in the secondary. The Bears will use six-man protection to target wide receiver Brandon Marshall (X) on the "Dagger" concept.
This is a defensive package that was part of the weekly game plan for now-suspended coordinator Gregg Williams during his time with the Redskins and Saints. The Rams can show exotic alignments with six defensive backs on the field, bring overload pressure or play coverage. In this situation, the Rams will send the dime back (D) off the edge to the open (weak) side of the formation to create a four-man rush scheme with seven players dropping into coverage.
This is very similar to Cover-2 with the strong safety (SS) and the free safety (FS) playing the deep halves of the field. Both corner backs (RC, LC) will sink at the snap (no jam) to cushion a possible 7 (corner) route or play underneath the 9 (fade) with the two underneath linebackers (M, S) dropping to the "seam-hook." The key is the nickel back, Cortland Finnegan (N). At the snap, Finnegan will drop to the deep middle of the field to create a three-deep look. The Rams want to force Cutler to come off his vertical reads and dump the ball underneath.
The Bears have to set the bait to get Marshall (X) open in the middle of the field. To the open side of the formation, Earl Bennett (W) will occupy both the free safety and Finnegan by clearing out the seam/post. Underneath, tight end Kellen Davis (Y) will work back across the field to shorten the depth of the Mike linebacker (M) with Devin Hester (Z) running a straight 9 route to the closed side of the formation. Cutler can target Davis if the Mike sits under the dig route, but this concept is designed to clear out the top of the secondary and throw a deep inside breaking cut. The Bears want to find a hole in the zone coverage and exploit it.
The Rams have two defensive ends in Chris Long (LE) and Robert Quinn (RE) who can apply pressure up the field. However, the Bears are using six-man protection with running back Michael Bush (R) staying in the backfield. Bush can "check-release" or "chip" on the dime back before releasing as a fifth option. The Bears thus have six to block four. Cutler should have enough time to scan the field, find his targets, set his feet and step into the throw. And in a third-down situation, it is crucial to get the ball past the sticks to Marshall.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC